Creating Healthy Habitats with Native Plants

Learning About Healthy Habitats 

If you have suggestions for resources for this page, please email habitatstewardship@marswildlife 


Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Doug Tallamy

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Doug Tallamy

Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant, & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden by Eileen Stark (many links to resources from her website)

Native Plants in the Coastal Garden: A Guide for Gardeners in B.C. and the Pacific Northwest (2002) by April Pettinger & Brenda Costanzo

Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar & Andy McKinnon. The best guide for native plants on this coast; includes Indigenous uses of plants.


Plant Guides suiting Eastern Vancouver Island

Satinflower Nurseries (Saanich) Plants: a thorough photo list of flowers, grasses, shrubs, trees and more, filterable by light, soil, and water needs, bloom time, etc. 

Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook:  Nurturing Native Plant Habitat in Garry Oak Communities (downloadable .pdf)

Selecting Plants for Pollinators:  Download the .pdf of Eastern Vancouver Island Ecoregion

Gardening with Nature: Excellent resources from Habitat Acquisition Trust, Victoria.

Webinars, Recordings, Videos

SOUL’s 2022 Year of the Ecological Garden Series: Central Canada focus, but great information on functional spaces

Pollinator Steward Webinar Series: is a ten-episode series by Satinflower Nursery and Island Pollinator Initiative includes selecting plants for pollinators, planting meadows and hedgerows

Members of our habiat stewardship team were hosted by the Society for Organic Urban Landscaping for a presentation about the evolution of the MARS native meadows and wild areas. 

Many gardeners work hard to maintain clean, tidy environments … which is the exact opposite of what wildlife wants, says ecological horticulturist Rebecca McMackin. She shows the beauty of letting your garden run wild, surveying the success she’s had increasing biodiversity even in the middle of New York City.

Facebook Groups

Satinflower Nurseries Restoration Group: VI forum helps with questions about restoration techniques, plant identification, planting choices, site preparation, and much more.

BC Native Plants (large group with experts in plant ID)

Native Plant Study Group (Victoria)

Homegrown National Park: Visuals, sharing, advice (Canada/USA)

Where to View Local Restoration Projects

  • Little River, Comox
  • Airpark, Courtenay
  • Ship’s Point Park, Fanny Bay
  • Baikie Island and Campbell River Estuary
  • MARS Wildlife Rescue, Merville

Local Groups

Comox Valley Nature: Botany group, Little River Restoration, Airpark Restoration, 

Comox Valley Conservation Partnership

Greenways Land Trust, Campbell River

Is it a native plant?

E-Flora is the Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia.  Page entries for each species have photo, distribution map, illustration, description, habitat & range and status (native or exotic, endangered etc.) Very useful in understanding what plants grow here and under what conditions.

See also E-Fauna for mammals, fish, insects, crustaceans etc.

Garden Design & Ecological Practices

Creating a Native Garden in Victoria, BC: From Design to Maintenance by Louise Goulet

Naturescape British Columbia: Caring for Wildlife Habitat at Home by Susan Campbell & Sylvia Pincott, 1995. This is an oldy but so good–the information is unchanged over time!

Practical Tips for Organic Gardners by Christina Nikolic

Sources of Native Plants and Seeds for Eastern Vancouver Island

Satinflower Nursery in Saanich, Vancouver Island, provides plants, seeds and consulting. Their website has excellent resources and how-to guides.

Streamside Native Plants is in Bowser offers wholesale and retail native forbs, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Check hours of operation.

Nanaimo Area Land Trust’s Native Plant Nursery is a volunteer-run endeavor. They carry both seeds and plants. Check their hours of operation before visiting.

Fraser’s Thimble Farm on Salt Spring Island has an extensive native plant collection that includes trees, shrubs, forbs, grasses, and ferns (as well as unusual exotics). They do ship.

On the Patio in Cedar (south of Nanaimo) carries over 75 native plants. Contact them for for availability. Open for in-person shopping.

Kiki Nursery and Consulting in Ladysmith is in development and plans to open soon.

Paradise Plants on Hardy Road in Courtenay has a selection of native trees, shrubs, and ferns. 

Local nurseries, grocery chains, and large retailers may carry some native plants like Sword fern and Red-flowering currant. Be aware of cultivars and plant sterility, and aim to purchase the “wild type” or species. 



“This sort of restoration is 21st century landscaping. We’ve done 20th century….When we choose plants based only on their decorative value, then landscaping equals ecological destruction. When we choose plants–at least in part–on their ecological function, then landscaping becomes ecosystem.”       ~Doug Tallamy